Monday, July 2, 2012

Review- NAMOR VISIONARIES: JOHN BYRNE VOL. 1

NAMOR VISIONARIES: JOHN BYRNE VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2011; Softcover)
Collects Namor, The Sub-Mariner Nos. 1-9 (cover dates April- December, 1990)
Writer and Artist: John Byrne
I am a huge John Byrne fan. I met Byrne at the Mid-Ohio Con in 2004, and he was very gracious, answering all of my inane X-Men questions for what must have been the thousandth time. I know that many people have issues with the man and his opinions. I say separate the art from the artist.
I missed this series when it was originally published, as I was on sabbatical from the hobby at the time. The gist of the series is simple. Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is repulsed by man's destruction of his ocean environment. He decides to combat pollution, so he once again wages war against the surface world...on the surface world's own terms. He uses sunken treasures to make himself rich, and buy a corporation, which he names Oracle. This was a pretty timely topic, as I recall never even hearing of Earth Day until the much hyped 20th anniversary in 1990. Byrne was ahead of the game, seeing as how he would have been working on this in the fall of 1989. As of this point in the series, Namor hasn't really done anything to help Mother Earth, but we'll see, right?
Most of the foes that the Sub-Mariner tangles with are environmental monsters, and are a cross between Atlas era Kirby monsters and Byrne's Alpha Flight Great Beasts in appearance. There are lots of great action sequences here. Namor's main foils, the Marrs twins, heads of the Marrs Corporation, are not super villains at all.
Byrne's art in issue 4 takes a strange turn, as he goes for a type of blueish shading similar to Bill Everett's original take on the character in his first appearance Marvel Comics #1 back in 1939 (itself a colorized reprinting of Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1). 
Not everything here is gold, though. Headhunter is a downright corny villain, and the reveal at the end of the arc was lame. Still, this was a fun read with plenty of action and good Byrne artwork. Volume 2 has been solicited and will be released this summer.
The OCD zone- Wonderful, dull matte finish coated stock paper which brilliantly captures the flat colors and provides an authentic, yet high end feeling, comic book reading experience. My OCD swooned!

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